A Good 19thC Carved Oak & Leather Upholstered Savonarola Armchair

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Origin: English
Period: Late Victorian
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1880-1900
Width: 30 inches
Depth: 22 inches
Height: 43 inches (all at maximum)

The well-carved oak x-framed chair with double-headed eagle decoration, foliate pattern and pommel finials to the high carved back, with the original leather button-back upholstery and carved nulling decoration to the front legs, the whole sitting on castors survives from late Victorian period England.

This chair is found in a totally original state aside from a six-inch section of oak to the rear apex of the x-frame, which has been replaced and matched in due to earlier worm damage. We have stabilised the other joints and it is ready for use. The leather is a slightly tired, with some buttons missing, but importantly, original, without patches and although it suffers from a handful of small tears which we have stabilized, with the side leather panels weak at their edges though all benefiting from a beautiful suppleness and patination that leather of this age so beautifully radiates. The chair is now presented in good sturdy condition with wonderful originality.

X-framed chairs were originally coffer maker’s chairs in the 15th century when the frames were covered with leather or fabric but there were variations on the X-framework. Stools supported by an X-shaped underframe were known and used in Egypt as early as 1350 B.C.

A Savonarola is a type of X-frame chair, in which two legs, sometimes composed of multiple slats, cross each other and rise to form the arms, creating the silhouette of a wavy X; developed in late 15th century-early 16th century Italy, it was originally a foldable adaptation of the ancient Roman curule, only with more angular legs and the addition of a low back; often the wood was carved or inlaid; later Renaissance Revival versions in the 19th century often featured high backs and even more ornate carving or inlay which we see here in this example.

Try and sit in this chair and not feel important, it’s impossible, but do please endeavor to keep the barking out of instructions to a minimum, we don’t want a revolt on our hands do we?

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